Daddy Longlegs: Harvestmen vs. Cellar Spiders

What bathtub or ceiling corner hasn’t been occupied by a Cellar spider?  Most people refer to them as “Daddy Longlegs” but a “true” Daddy Longlegs is a distant relative of the Cellar spider.  They both are in the same animal class as spiders (Arachnida) but the real Daddy Longlegs is called a Harvestmen and is not a spider.  Cellar spiders really are spiders; these are the spiders you usually see hanging upside down from the ceiling. Confused? Keep reading!
Harvestmen spider on leaf

Harvestmen are true “Daddy Longlegs” with a fused body.
Actual spiders have separate body parts.

Araneaes vs. Opiliones

Harvestmen/Daddy Longlegs are not spiders but belong to the order Opiliones. Cellar Spiders are called “Daddy Longlegs” but are of the order Araneae, a true spider. These lower level divisions within the class Arachnida are called “orders” and are what separates the two species. The body of a Harvestman/Daddy Longlegs appears fused and lacks the distinct body regions of a spider. There are more than 200 species of Daddy Longlegs in North America; most are of European in origin.
Cellar Spider are often called Daddy Longlegs

Cellar spiders really are spiders but often are called Daddy Longlegs because of their long legs. Note the separate body parts.

Harvestman and Daddy Longlegs Habitat

Harvestmen: This arachnid is correctly called a “Daddy Longlegs.??? It has 8 legs with a long pill-like body segment and 2 eyes. Harvestmen eat decomposing vegetation and animal matter, aphids, caterpillars, flies, snails, and whatever else they can find. Living outdoors under rocks, logs, and in moist habitats, these Daddy Longlegs do not produce silk and so they are never found in webs unless they get caught and are being eaten by a spider. If lucky, Harvestmen live about a year but usually die in the winter as the weather turns colder. Harvestmen are not the Daddy Longlegs one sees inside the home hanging from webs.
Face of Cellar Spider

Close-up of Cellar Spider (Pholcus phalangioides)

Cellar spiders: (A.K.A. Daddy Longlegs) are in the family Pholcidae. They were always called by the common name of “Daddy Longlegs??? by the general public, so because of the confusion, Arachnologists have gone ahead and given Cellar spiders the nickname of “Daddy Longlegs.??? Unlike true Daddy Longlegs, Cellar spiders have 2 basic body parts, 8 legs, and 8 eyes (all clumped together). These spiders will eat other spiders, even black widows. Cellar Daddy Longlegs do build webs and hang out in ceiling corners. They shake their web violently to ward of predators and use it to catch and eat other spiders, moths, gnats, flies, mosquitoes, and other creatures common indoors. When they are not living in the home, garage, or shed, Cellar spiders are found in naturally protected areas like rock piles and caves.

Urban Legend Regarding Daddy Longlegs

Despite the urban legend that states, “Daddy Longlegs are the most poisonous spider but their fangs are too short to bite humans……??? Daddy Longlegs do not possess poison glands. They are non-poisonous and are considered to be beneficial in a garden, ridding it of insects, slugs, and mites. Both “Daddy Longlegs” are not known to bite.
Daddy Longlegs

Group of Daddy Longlegs – Harvestmen

Pest Management for Daddy Longlegs

Since “true” Daddy Longlegs – the Harvestman spends its time under logs and in gardens, it isn’t much of a pest and people don’t run into one very often. The Cellar spider, however, as the name describes where it can be found, is usually belly-side up hanging from its web in basements, garages, sheds, and corners of a ceiling. Like the Harvestman, Cellar spiders are not poisonous but can be a nuisance with their web-building.
Female Cellar Spider with Egg Sac

Female Cellar spiders carry their eggs around with their fangs.

The female Cellar spider tends to carry her eggs (surrounded by a few strands of silk) in her fangs so if you eliminate the spider, you can also destroy the eggs. A Hearts Pest Management Technician will be able to locate where these “Daddy Longlegs” are hanging out in your home and remove them. The Hearts technician will also provide guidelines on keeping spiders out of the home and outdoors where they belong – far away from the house! Call today at 1-800-986-1006 for help with a spider infestation. You’re also welcome to complete the form below and a caring Hearts Pest Management representative will contact you shortly.
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ReferencesMallis, Handbook of Pest Control, Tenth Edition, Saunders College Publishing, 2011. University of California, Riverside, Entomology Department. Wikipedia – Harvestman and Cellar Spiders.

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